1910 - 1920: Scott Redfield Publishing Company
Published The BOY'S MAGAZINE in Smethport, Pennsylvania

Smethport's Boy's Magazine began publication one year prior to its chief competitor, Boy's Life Magazine, and was an immensely popular national publication.

photo credit: Fred Connington Collection

The Boys’ Magazine: 1910-1920

No history of Smethport would be complete without mention of Scott F. Redfield’s nationally distributed Boys' Magazine.. Each month from 1910 to 1920, the Scott F. Redfield Co. of Smethport, Pennsylvania, published The Boys' Magazine. This magazine featured adventure and suspense fiction along with moral-related juvenile literature.

The Boys' Magazine sought to guide young men in character development, physical fitness, as well as hobby interests. Mr. Redfield began publishing various magazines and newsletters in Smethport during the early 1900s. He edited and published the magazine from its inception until 1921, except during 1911-1915 when Walter Camp served as editor. The magazine initially sold for a dime a copy or $1 for an annual subscription and at its height had a broad distribution throughout the United States.

The Boys’ Magazine predated Boy’s Life Magazine (originally named Boys’ and Boy Scouts Magazine) but was never able to connect successfully with the Boy Scouts of America
movement which continues to drive Boy’s Life.

During the early 1900s Mr. Redfield published Redfield’s Stamp Weekly. He continued to publish articles on stamp collecting throughout his career which included a
regular stamp column in The Boys’ Magazine.

See Original Boys' Magazine Print Shop

The Boys' Magazine

research article written by
Scot Guenter
© 1985
Edited by R. Gordon Kelly
Greenwood Press
Westport, Connecticut: London, England

Publication History

 The Boys' Magazine (1910-1920)
 (vol. 1, no. 1-vol. 11, no 12)
 Scott F. Redfield Co., Smethport, Pa (1910-1920)
Scott F. Redfield (1910-1911); Walter Camp (1911-1915); Scott F. Redfield (1915-February 1920);
Herbert Hungerford (March-September 1920); Scott F. Redfield (October-December 1920). (research source- Scot Guenter)

From 1910 to 1921 The Boys' Magazine offered young man a monthly publication that combined the adventure and suspense of dime-novel fiction with the more acceptable juvenile literature in which proper behavior reaped rewards and stories had obvious morals.  With entertainment its primary purpose, The Boys' Magazine also sought to mold character, encourage fitness, and develop interest in hobbies and skills.

The thirty-two-page magazine sold for $0.10 a copy, or $1 a year, and was published by the Scott F. Redfield Co. in Smethport, Pennsylvania, a small town in the then thriving Pennsylvania oil fields. Redfield, born in 1880 in Washington, D.C., the son of a newspaper reporter, moved to Smethport and married into a prominent local family. He was involved in real estate and automobile sales before his publishing venture and edited the magazine throughout most of its existence.

The Boys' Magazine presented short stories and serialized longer pieces in which the hero was a teenage or young adult male.  It also included articles on exemplary young men, athletics, and hunting, as well as regular departments that were an important part of the periodical in its first eight volumes.  George Avison illustrated almost all of the covers and a high percentage of the stories published, although the artwork of other artists, such as A. O. Scott and Clare Angell, was regularly used too.

Most of the fiction was dramatic and exciting, placing the young heroes in perilous situations that called for bravery and clever thinking.  Conventional narrative forms predominated: historical fiction, technology and transportation, confrontations with bank robbers, Indian life, prep school or college life, sports, and nature adventures.

The smallest category, historical fiction, included serialized accounts of young men's patriotic efforts during the American Revolution, such as John T. McIntyre's: Young Continentals at Bunker Hill" (January 1910 and following and following issues) and Everett T. Tomlinson's "Light Horse Harry's Legion" (August 1910 and following issues). One other historical topic for fiction was the taming
of the old West, but the majority of stories were given a contemporary setting.

Some of the stories dealt with young men's adventures in aircraft, automobiles, and trains.  A positive attitude toward technical knowledge was reinforced in these stories, encouraging the readers to learn how to operate and care for mechanical equipment.  The opening issue contained "Skimming the Skies," a serialized tale of two bright young men who not only build and fly dirigibles but also catch thieves. "Gasoline Bronc" (July 1915) by George M. Johnson illustrates the superiority of modern technology: a ranch manager's son uses his motorcycle to break through and Indian attack and bring back help to rescue the surrounded cowpunchers.  In several of the railroad stories, such as Roe L. Hendrics's "Return to Duty" (April 1913) and C. H. Claudy's "Dick's Start" (February 1911), near wrecks are averted at the last minute by quick-thinking youths who comprehend the intricacies of dispatching and telegraph communications.  Another tale clearly stressing the need to master modern communications.  Another tale clearly stressing the need to master modern communication skills is "The Surrender of Father" (January 1915) by Maud Mary Brown, a story in which the hero assembles a wireless transmitter and calls in aid to put down a strike in his father's coal mine.

Bank Robbers were regularly foiled in The Boys' Magazinefiction by brave young men who used their wits. "The Proving of Billy" (February 1915) by Gardner Hunting, "When the Hour Struck" (January 1911) by J. S. Danielson, and "Fixing a Robber" (February 1913) by Harry W. Newcombe exemplify this type of story.  Indian stories were also very popular, whether in an entirely Indian cultural setting or in recounting a clash with white traders or settlers moving west.  A large number of the Indian stories published in The Boys' Magazine were by Ernest Carliowa, a regular contributor.
Slightly  more  numerous  are stories depicting  prep  school  and college  life, often emphasizing the team sports offered  by  such institutions.   John  Clair Minot wrote a  succession  of  stories recounting the adventures of young university men, including  "The Entombed Feud" (January 1910) and "A Husking Checker's Experience" (February 1910).  "Fenton's Debt" (January 1912) by E. M.  Jameson
shows  the  influence  of  Burt  L. Standish's  "Frank  Merriwell" series,  a bully creating fear among smaller classmates.   Serials about football  and baseball team activities included  "Left  End Edwards"  (September  1915 and following issues)  by  Ralph  Henry Barbour  and  several stories by William Heylier, including  "Fair Play"  (March  1915  and following issues),  "Five  Yards  to  Go" (January  1913 and following issues), and "The Winning Hit"  (June 1916  and following issues), was written by Zane Grey, best  known for  his  popular  western novels.  Other sports were  also  given attention in The Boys' Magazine, notably sailing and track.

Nature adventures made up the largest single group of  short stories  in The Boys' Magazine.  These stories were of  two  basic types: stories of young men who battle the elements and stories of young  men who confront wild animals.  Examples of the first  type include  Hugh  F. Grinstead's "Flood and Its Messenger"  (December 1914), Arthur Knowle's "Adrift on an Ice Raft" (January 1913), and Archibald Rutledge's "Vine and the Whirlpool" (February 1913).  In the  second type of these stories, the animal might be a puma,  a panther,  or  even  a  bear, but always the  young  hero  narrowly escapes  a grisly death.  Examples of this type include "A  Tussle with  a  Wildcat" (March 1915) by Ladd Plumley, "The Worthlessness of  Buster"  (February 1913) by Roe L. Hendrick, and  "A  Crop  of Sweet  Corn"  (August 1914) by Harrison R. Heath.   A  fascination with  the  great  outdoors is apparent in many  serials  as  well, notably the string by Hugh Pendexter: "The Young Lumbermen,"  "The Young Prospectors," "The Young Forest Rangers," "The Young Timber- Cruisers," and "The Young Gem hunters."

Although  most  of  the  magazine was  devoted  to  fiction, articles  also  appeared.  Usually, they presented  and  exemplary young  man as a role model of offered tips on athletics,  hunting, or  fishing.  Occasionally, articles appeared urging correct moral behavior  (such as temperance) or discussing geographical wonders, but  they  were not very common.  John L. Harbour was  responsible for  many short, inspirational, biographical pieces, such as  "Our President's  Young Son" (January 1913), concerning  Charlie  Taft, and "From Messenger Boy to Fifty-Thousand Dollars a Year" (January 1912), the rags-to-riches story of corporation president Belvidere Brooks.   Advice  articles on sports or  hunting  were  penned  by experts,  such  as  baseball  professional  Billy  Evans's  serial "Developing  a  Crack  Baseball Team"  (July  1913  and  following issues)  and the reoccurring tips on shooting by Warren H. Miller, editor of Field and Stream.

From  the  start  a  heavy emphasis was  placed  on  regular departments.   Alfred  P. Morgan  edited a monthly column on electricity and mechanics, Arthur Mallett edited on stamps  and coins,  and  Donald Grandon edited another on  photography.   Day Allen Wiley's "Curios Department" disappeared in May 1910, and  A. Neely  Hall's "Carpentry Department" debuted in March 1910.   Both in  emphasis  and  presentation, the most  significant  department dealt with athletics and was edited by Walter Camp, originator  of the  first  All-American football team.  Cam's name and  influence were  so  integral to The Boys' Magazine that in November 1911  he was  made editor-in-chief, responsible for a monthly editorial  on sportsmanship.   Redfield  made  himself  editor  again  in  1915, dropping Camp to the status of contributing editor.  An article by Simon T. Dillon, "Boy Scouts Movement" (December 1910), led to the inauguration of  a monthly column edited by John  Prine  Jones. Devoted  to  the  activities of the Boy Scouts  of  America,  this column  extolled their work and encouraged membership.   Beginning in  August  1911,  it predated Boy's Life,* which  did  not  start publication until the following July.

The  departments  were  converted of  disappeared  during  a reorganizational  shakeup of The Boys' Magazine that  occurred  in the  premiere  1915  issue. Herbert Hungerford  was  made  "chief booster"  and  ostensibly took over the editing of  the  magazine, although Redfield retained the title.  Formerly active in the YMCA and  creator  of the first Boy's Success Club in New  York,  which developed into the later Success League, Hungerford sought to make the  periodical  more  dependent on  reader  submissions  with  an expanded  Prize Department.  He also enlisted the  aid  of  Orison Swett  Marden  as  contributing  editor  on  success  winning  and character  building  topics; Warren  H.  Miller  as  outdoor  life editor;  Spencer  Hord  of  Kodak  as  photography  editor;   Jack Glennister, founder of Boys' Life, as athletics editor;  and  Edna Earle Henderson as nature editor.

Circulation was listed as more than 100,000 by April 1915 and more  than 110,000 by July 1915, but there were signs the magazine was  in  trouble.   Pulpier, less expensive paper  was  used,  and typeset size was reduced as advertising increased.  By  volume  9, stories  from  volume 1 were being reprinted  in  their  entirety. Hungerford's  attempt  to  stimulate circulation  by  allying  the readers with his Success League and later with his "Squarefellow's Republic,"  a  similar program encouraging readers' contributions, ultimately failed, and The Boys' Magazine, after raising its price in  September 1920 to $0.20 a copy, ceased publication at the  end of that year.   -Scot Guenter © 1985

(Scot Guenter is a  graduate of Smethport Area High School & is presently a professor at San Jose State Univeristy where he serves as American Studies Program Coordinator)

 Ross Porter Collection
photos of collection by Gregory Pierotti

Redfield Stamp Weekly was published during the early 1910's at the printing presses in Smethport.
This was the other publication of the Scott Redfield Publishing Company.  He also printed it after he moved to Syracuse.